You stand in a long line with a bunch of your friends, but your heart still races with a sense of discomfort. Your hands begin to sweat so you rub them on your pants, hoping no know notices how excited you are, but lets be honest, you’ve been waiting for this moment almost two years. Someone stands on a step stool and begins a count down. You check your watch, noticing it must be five minutes slow, but sure as hell won’t be correcting the store manager. 10, 9, 8, he begins with more and more people joining in as the count gets lower. 3, 2, 1. It’s midnight! Get your receipts ready and grab your game!
Midnight launches are a cornerstone in every die-hard gamers’ life. We want the game first. We want to be the first to experience what no one has yet. Especially when it comes to competitive games like Battlefield or Call of Duty, we want to have the highest rank and best weapons as fast as possible. So it is heartbreaking when we find out that once we get home and login to whatever game account we use, that we are greeted with system crashes, bugs, glitches, and unfinished products. This not only ruins customer satisfaction and buyer loyalty, but stands as an embarrassment to any company trying to build their brand.
Recently, the launch of Street Fighter V has been met with glitches, bugs, and server errors rendering online matches almost impossible. In light of that, I reached out to the AA team to see what our previous experiences have been with games that made us want to put our fist through our flat screen TV.
Jamie Briggs – Fallout New Vegas
When it comes to poor launches usually the online portion of the game is to blame, however, back in 2010 Fallout New Vegas provided one of the worst offline single player launch experiences I have ever seen.
I’m a huge fan of the Fallout series and after playing the life out of Fallout 3, my excitement for New Vegas was at a fever pitch. The problem was New Vegas refused to let me pass the opening missions, either due to certain items never appearing, or due certain building locking me in with no escape. I’m a gamer who is perfectly willing to endure constant deaths due to my own inferior skill, but when a game forces me to repeatedly replay missions due to technical issues, I find it hard to continue playing.
Unfortunately due to the many problems that plagued my opening of Fallout New Vegas, I have never got to experience what many claim to be the best entry in the franchise. I have never returned to Fallout New Vegas and it continues to lie in the depths of my Trophy library with a mere 1% – and I never know if I’ll find the heart to return.
Kosta Canatselis – Halo the Master Chief collection
It was advertised as the ultimate bundle, all four Halo games on one disc with an ultimate multiplayer mode to include maps from all of the games, it was so perfect… Or so we thought.
On release we all came to see what the result of a rushed release was. It was a really disappointing experience. Day one brought us a 6 or so gigabyte update and it still didn’t fix any problems. We couldn’t play online as it would take around 40 minutes of waiting before we could get into any sort of game.
There were also a ton of glitches and issues when changing rounds in multiplayer, luckily single player was fairly smooth sailing but multiplayer alone was able to degrade my experience as it was about a month or two after release that I finally got to play multiplayer. Luckily we know Microsoft learn[ed] from their mistakes and launched Halo 5 with a robust MP.
Devon McCarty – Assassins Creed: Unity
I have played every Assassins Creed game they have made for a console. When they announced an opportunity to be an Assassin in a team retrospect, I got pumped. The marketing team told me everything I wanted to hear. That I could enter the front door and cause a distraction with a few others were focusing on the mission or causing distractions of their own.
The problem was, that is not at all how it went down. I went to the midnight launch, got home to install the game, and waited for hours before a string of glitches and bugs ruined my entire experience. I dove off buildings only to get trapped in hay carts. My stealth kills would crash the game. Most importantly, I would struggle to connect to an online server for hours, to no avail, which only made playing my missions more difficult. I liked that time period and really looked forward to building my own Musketeer style Assassin, and forming a small brotherhood of my own to play on a regular basis.
The game was so glitchy and unfinished that at the end of the week I brought the game back, and the store let me return it and exchange it for a different game. Something they had before never offered. AC: Unity made me second guess ever buying an Assassins Creed game again.
Eric Pepper – Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5
While attempting to breathe new life into a franchise that many gamers grew up playing, a broken experience was released to the masses. With an absolutely massive day one patch, there were still a significant number of issues to be found within the game, including a persistent bug which caused the game to crash after freezing at the Activision logo. To work around this problem, the player had to sign in as a guest on their console, load the game, and switch back to their primary profile at the main menu. Even after doing this, the game was not bug-free as physics were constantly questionable and achievements would not unlock.
There was a great skate park creation tool found within the game, and it was arguably one of the biggest strengths of the title, but considering you had to be able to get into the game to use it, the community support was obviously very lacking.
Activision stated that they were working diligently on creating a patch for the game in order to rectify the issues and provide gamers with the sort of experience they deserved. Unfortunately, while the patch has been released, the fatal bug causing the title to crash before even reaching the main menu is still at large. The end result is a patch which took several months of work to create and was roughly 7GB in size, and didn’t resolve the single largest issue the game encountered. Not only does Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 hold the dubious honor of being one of the worst releases in recent memory, it still has yet to be transformed into a consistently playable experience.
Nathan Manning – Grand Theft Auto Online
Apart from the single player portion of Grand Theft Auto 5, Grand Theft Auto Online was a much anticipated release in 2013 – especially since it was delayed for about a month and didn’t release with the single player content.
When GTA Online finally did launch, it was unplayable for 99% of the player base for about a week. An unexpected bug had occurred that wasn’t picked up in internal testing, meaning most players could not find other players to complete the compulsory introductory race in Grand Theft Auto Online.
It was frustrating, especially considering the online component was already delayed, now eager fans were going to have to wait even longer to explore Los Santos together.
Robert Key – Battlefield 4
There’s nothing like the launch of the next generation of gaming consoles. Whether you’re creating the games or playing them, it’s an exciting time for everyone in the industry. When I bought my Xbox One at launch, I couldn’t wait to dab myself in the waters of “next gen” goodness.
Unfortunately, it was incredibly hard for me to do so with Battlefield 4, and for much of the time following. With 22 games that launched with the Xbox One — seven of which were either sports or dancing titles — options were limited at the time, and with poor party chat on Xbox’s part and general, terrible connection problems from EA, I felt almost cheated with Battlefield 4 because it was hardly playable.
It took a year of updates to fix Battlefield 4’s problems, and I’m not sure if the game is still completely stable after literal gigabytes worth of updates. Adding insult to injury was perhaps the driest campaign I’ve ever played. I believe I lost interest within the first two chapters/levels.
These are just a small selection of terrible experiences we at AA have shared. But the conversation doesn’t end here. The struggle is real for all of us and we want to hear about yours too! Rarely is there a time when I will ask you to rant angrily but in this case, let the nerd rage flow through you here or on Facebook and Twitter!